Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Neonatal Imitation in Context: Sensory-Motor Development in the Perinatal Period

  • Nazim Keven (a1) and Kathleen A. Akins (a2)
Abstract
Abstract

Over 35 years ago, Meltzoff and Moore (1977) published their famous article ‘Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates’. Their central conclusion, that neonates can imitate, was and continues to be controversial. Here we focus on an often neglected aspect of this debate, namely on neonatal spontaneous behaviors themselves. We present a case study of a paradigmatic orofacial ‘gesture’, namely tongue protrusion and retraction (TP/R). Against the background of new research on mammalian aerodigestive development, we ask: How does the human aerodigestive system develop and what role does TP/R play in the neonate's emerging system of aerodigestion? We show that mammalian aerodigestion develops in two phases: (1) from the onset of isolated orofacial movements in utero to the post-natal mastery of suckling at 4 months after birth, and; (2) thereafter, from preparation to the mastery of mastication and deglutition of solid foods. Like other orofacial stereotypies, TP/R emerges in the first phase and vanishes prior to the second. Based upon recent advances in activity-driven early neural development, we suggest a sequence of three developmental events in which TP/R might participate: the acquisition of tongue control, the integration of the central pattern generator for TP/R with other aerodigestive CPGs, and the formation of connections within the cortical maps of S1 and M1. If correct, orofacial stereotypies are crucial to the maturation of aerodigestion in the neonatal period but also unlikely to co-occur with imitative behavior.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address: Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology Program, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899. Email: nkeven@wustl.edu
Address: Simon Fraser University, 4604 Diamond Building, Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6. E-Email: kathleea@sfu.ca
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 136 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1090 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.